I only met you once, when you came to help me in class one Sunday. You were quiet, but the kids loved interacting with you. You helped me explain what golems were and stepped in when I was stumbling over some Hebrew. I was so grateful that day for your help, because I was overwhelmed by the kids’ off-the-wall energy and then you came in as a calming presence. I don’t think I ever got to thank you. I wish I had.
When I heard you had died by your own hand, it hit me harder than I thought it would. I’d only met you once, right? But we share one terrible thing in common: we both attempted suicide, but I failed where you did not. No one ever warned me that, as a suicide attempt survivor, the suicide of someone I knew only superficially would completely knock the breath out of me, haunting me as I toss and turn at night, making me obsess over our one interaction and wondering if I had missed something.
I was only a year older than you when I first tried to end my life. I had stumbled head first into the rabbit hole of depression and I just kept falling. I couldn’t see any value in my life and the emotional pain was too dark, too heavy for me to handle and I could only see myself as a burden to others. I just wanted the noise in my head to stop and, on one cold winter day, taking a sharp blade to my skin seemed to be the solution I was searching for. Another attempt landed me in the hospital with an overdose of aspirin and antidepressants. Both times, for just a moment, I felt eerily at peace, ready to leave a world I didn’t feel had space for me. But I lived and, more importantly, I’m glad I did.
I wonder if you were somehow broadcasting out an S.O.S. that day we met. I wonder if there was anything I, anyone could have done to help you more. I don’t wonder, however, why you saw suicide as a way out. I know what it’s like to be groping around in unbelievable darkness, trying to find your place, wondering if you really matter. I know how maddening that terrible voice in your head can be, whispering to you that you are not good enough, you are not worthy, why can’t you be like everyone else. Even with all the time that has passed, I still struggle with that abusive voice and, more than once, it’s driven me to lapse back into self-harm. It has never really gone away, it’s just grown quieter. I’ve learned how to manage it and with weekly therapy and a good psychiatrist, I am able to live my life as normally as I can, with a few bumps here and there.
I mourn for you. I mourn the fact that you won’t graduate or go to college. I mourn the time that was robbed from you, time that might have made all the difference, as it did for me. And even though I’d much rather have you here, alive and bright, with your family and community who loved you very much, I understand.
I hope you are now at peace, sweet girl.